Hanappe Bazooka

Go Nagai. Either you're a rabid fan of the guy, collecting his varied compositions in manga and anime form, or you run away screaming when you hear his name. When you look at his picture over at the Anime News Network, you see what appears to be a gentle, mild-mannered fellow. Despite his look, the man helped shape the frame of Japanese entertainment with the Mazinger series...and with Cutey Honey, Devilman, and Violence Jack. His work tends towards the occult, the violent, and the sexually wicked as a matter of course. But surely there is something behind his work that makes it appealing beyond its brutish nature?

Typically, it's comedy--a lowbrow form that makes American toilet humor look good--that serves to ingratiate Go Nagai's work to readers. Most of the time, it doesn't work. In Hanappe Bazooka, we're treated to a wealth of Nagai's worst--and if you don't like the thought of bad, dysfunctional, sexually aberrant behavior in your entertainment, just hit the back button on your browser and ignore that this title exists. But Bazooka also shows a little glimpse as to why Nagai's material sometimes works. Frankly, it's often darn funny. I don't recommend it as entertainment, as it walks right on that line between tasteless and offensive. But there were a few times when I wasn't busy being offended when I laughed out loud.

Meet Hanappe...a boor of a teen with a libido a mile wide and a personality a millimeter thick. His family doesn't understand him. (Not that there's much to understand.) His biggest excitement in life is collecting pictures of unsuspecting coeds showing a bit more skin than intended. One day, after getting ahold of some new material, Hanappe...to put it as nicely as I can...gets jiggy with himself. His amorous activities get him more than he bargained for, however, as his actions summon up a couple of crazy demons. Bazooka and Dance are a green-skinned giant and half-naked cat girl, respectively, and they are determined to turn Hanappe completely evil (rather than just immoral, I guess). They give him the power to control whomever and whatever he wants just by pointing his finger, which sounds like a good deal...until the two demons wreck his house, his family, and his life. Hanappe is willing to go to extreme measures to get rid of the two nasty creatures, but will he lose his soul in the process?

From a technical standpoint, Hanappe Bazooka is probably about the best-animated Go Nagai product I've seen. Unlike many of the other anime based on his work, the characters here don't look half bad, avoiding the tendency they have to look horrendously ugly in shows like Iron Virgin Jun. Although the music and production values aren't really noticeable, they aren't distracting. Not high marks, but more than I expect from Go Nagai material.

When it comes right down to it, Hanappe Bazooka is pretty irredeemable. It combines fart gags, sexual perversity, and demonic creatures in a mix that just makes you want to get out the soap on a rope and start scrubbing. It isn't hentai, but it comes very close to the line, and should have been released as an "adults only" title rather than as it was, as a 16+ recommendation. It's gross, it's disturbing, and it's perverted. I won't ever watch it again, and I wouldn't recommend anyone else watch it either.

On the other hand, however...and I can't believe I'm saying this...but Hanappe Bazooka is a comedy, and it is at times funny. The character of Bazooka is often hysterical, and he belongs in a better anime. His facial expressions are priceless. I also appreciate that Hanappe Bazooka doesn't pull any punches. It is raunchy, it knows it, and it goes for it. Anime has a really bad habit of teasing the audience with fan service and innuendo, giggling in a "oh aren't we naughty" way but clinging to a younger audience. (The Austin Powers films did much the same thing, which is why I don't like them either.) At least Hanappe Bazooka charges full steam ahead into borderline indecency without looking back or pretending to be for children.

If you like There's Something About Mary and other films that have gross-out gags for their primary humor, you may very well dig Hanappe Bazooka. Because it does have a few essentials right, there is an audience out there for this, I know that. I'm just not it and never want to be.

Hanappe Bazooka -- continuous jokes involving bodily humor, nudity/sexual situations, violence, profanity -- D+